GR{KNOW} | Gordon Food Service is Breaking Barriers for Minority Owned Restaurants


There’s no doubt that the business community in Grand Rapids is on an upward trajectory. Along with this growth comes a need for the acceptance of diversity. This is especially the case in the food industry, where culture is such an important part of the culinary experience. Residents should feel encouraged to seek out minority-owned restaurants to enjoy terrific meals and gain insight into a culture they may know very little about. 

As business grows, different cultures are gaining acceptance – yet minority-owned businesses still face several challenges. In an effort to assist these business owners, Gordon Food Service sponsored a minority-owned restaurant panel discussion to learn more about how the company can help them succeed. 

During the event, panelists Tarra Davis of Daddy Pete’s BBQ, Jessica Ann Tyson of The Candied Yam, Rawan Shatara of Tasty Gyro Coney Island, Oswaldo Cordoba of El Globo Restaurant, and Jan McGregory of Wing Heaven “discussed their start-up journeys, as well as the successes and challenges they’ve
experienced trying to expand their businesses”.

Here’s a quick look at what each of the 5 restaurants specialize in, including mini interviews with a few of the business owners. (Yes, we are trying to make you hungry!) 

Candied Yam

@TheCandiedYam | 2305 44th Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 

The Candied Yam serves delightful southern cuisine in a warm and friendly environment. They use fresh, quality ingredients much of which is local and organic. They offer a delicious menu and a vibrant atmosphere that includes live music entertainment happy hours. 

Q | “What do you look for in a partnership from a supplier?”
A | “…I feel that you all have such a vast knowledge because you deal with so many of us so you see what this person is doing thats allowing them to win or you see what this organization is doing over here that’s not so cool. I personally look for someone that wants to be that word you said ‘a partner….’ We are asking for you to help us win.” – Jessica Ann, Candied Yam

Daddy Pete’s

@daddypetesbbq | 2921 Eastern Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI

Daddy Pete’s is a restaurant that takes Barbecue to the next level. All meats are seasoned with their specially formulated dry rub and cooked over a rotisserie cooker for 6 hours. This helps them achieve a signature taste and level of tenderness that sets them apart. 

Q | “Could you share with us your most impactful personal encounter with a customer?”

A | “…as we’ve all said, this is not an easy journey. We’ve had lots and lots of customers come through but because hospitality is number one there are always times when we have to turn off whatever is going on with us personally, put on a smile and make someone else feel good. There was one day that we (my husband) talk about all the time, we open at 11 and at 10:59 we were literally standing there crying, and praying, and wondering how we are going to make it. The first customer that came in at 11 he said ‘I never say anything to you guys, but I’ve been watching you and I’m proud of you, and I appreciate what you do, I appreciate what you give, and I appreciate how you make me feel.'” – Tarra, Daddy Pete’s BBQ

El Globo

@elglobogr | 350 28th St SE Grand Rapids, MI

El Globo offers authentic Mexican food that is full of fresh ingredients that keeps their customers coming back. Unusual dishes like goat meat tacos work to keep their menu interesting and provide a taste sensation for their diners. Their atmosphere and great service are other reasons why the restaurant worth a visit.

Q | “What did you think about the event? Did you find value in coming out here today and speaking in front of our GFS community?”
A | “The event was amazing! Yes, absolutely. It was good to get out here and get more exposure to your community because we feel it is going to help us grow and continue to be successful” – Oswaldo, El Globo

Tasty Gyro

@TastyGyro | 2269 44th Street Grand Rapids, MI

This family owned restaurant is known for providing Mediterranean influenced Coney Island cuisine. They provide home style recipes, fresh ingredients and great service. Come in to taste their Detroit Style Coney Chicago Dogs, gyros, burgers and salads.

Wing Heaven

@wingheaven | 1500 44th St SW, Wyoming, MI

If you love great wings, Wing Heaven is the place to be. They provide unusual seasonings and 23 signature sauces that make eating their wings an adventure. Mango habanero, honey heaven and Jamaican jerk are just some of their must try flavors. 

The panel discussion received excellent feedback from all who attended. Here’s what some had to say about their experience: 

  • “Activities like this help us understand a different point of view and how we can better serve our customers.”- Brad Wolters, Capacity Planning Specialist
  • “I cannot wait to see where this goes in the future because the initial event was a home run.” – Joe Edge, Demand Planner
  • “I found the experience to be inspirational.” -Michele Fuller, Regional Pricing Specialist

With these terrific restaurants, it’s easy to see how the support of Gordon Food Service is working as an asset to minority restaurant owners as well as the community members they serve. To follow them and learn more about them, be sure to check them out on Facebook, Instagram and TwitterWe look forward to seeing how they are able to drive acceptance and inclusion in the Grand Rapids restaurant industry!

Panel discussion hosts Ruben Ornelas-Luna, Customer Development Specialist (left), and Aaron Gates, Nonperishables Replenishment Planner

About Gordon Food Service

Gordon Food Service is a food distribution company that prides themselves in providing excellent service and quality products to make for successful food operations and experiences. They embrace diversity and inclusion which serves to strengthen their workforce helping them to become leaders in their community.